Othya hated many aspects of what is often necessary. She hated the need for pain and suffering and the strata that separates people as slaves to freemen to citizen. But she knows that it is necessary for the continuation of Rome, even if the Empires existence is a slightly bitter taste in her mouth. So a public execution by hanging is a necessity that she does not like, even as she watches from the shadows of an alley.
She knows of each of the seven men with the gallows noose around their neck. It was her investigation after all that placed it there. She knows of their discretion's and their secrets, it's her job to know, it is why the Augusta kept her employ. The closest thing to the leaders of the Hippodrome Riots that left several dead three weeks ago. She had their names in two days but it took time to bring them into custody.
So now here she stands in the Constantinople execution grounds to watch the results of her work like she always does. The Augusta always chides her for her need to watch the consequences of her job, to make herself ruminate in the death of it all. But the rumination keeps her from overstepping her bounds, it reminds her that everything has a price and a consequence, if the rest of the Augusta's circle did this then perhaps Tribonian would be slightly more hesitant to change laws for a price.
The execution grounds always seem to be cold, like the spirits of the dead linger and devour the warmth they no longer can have. The gallows noose around the seven men's necks have little slack. Their bound hands tremble in fear of something that the have no power to change. Even now one of them tries to subtly fuss with the knot in a vain attempt of what would be an unsuccessful escape. The executioner calls out their crimes to a crowd of ashen faces.
Every manner of people are here, a few slaves with no work, an aristocrat , a few merchants, priests, monks, and last of all are the sevens families. As the first man falls and the rope snaps tight their is the first quiet sob of a woman, Othya idly wonders what she was to the dead man, a wife or a sister? The first man's feet still twitch in a desperate and pointless search for footing as the next one drops. It is repeat until the sixth and seventh.
Their ropes creek in a way the others didn’t. They spin while the others are still. Othya snaps her vision up to the ropes and sees them frayed. Then their is a subtle set of snaps barely audible of the din of crying women. The two men fall to the ground and a quiet slowly starts to fall over the crowd as everyone seems to hold their breath.
The guards are confused and the executioner is oblivious.
It's the monks who move first, the clasp of one’s cloak has the markings of Saint Conan. They burst past the guards and rush towards the criminals.
“We will not stand and do nothing as this cruelty continues!” The eldest looking of the monks says. “ Their ropes have snapped! God himself has spared them!”
God? It's all Othya can do to not curse the vary notion of the Christian God and the idea that he would spare someone that dozens of people witnessed driving a knife into a man's gut with a smile on his face. The younger one, Florus, maybe but, not Zeno. Othya’s investigation showed Zeno to be a man who takes joy from the pain and suffering he inflicts.
Othya’s hands twitch towards her hidden daggers but she stopped. She was a shadow for the Augusta and if she would kill there could not be so many witnesses. So she hissed frustration and climbed the nearest buildings to see what was happening in the now writhing mass of a crowd. Perched on the roof she could see what was unfolding with much more clarity. The once onlookers were pushing and hassling the guards and driving themselves between the them and the monks like a wedge splitting rocks.
She ignored the impending brawl and turned her attention to the monks who where now sprinting away with her quarry. If they wanted out of the city without the guard stopping them then they could only head south and take a bout across the Bosporus. But where would they go once they crossed, would they keep running? No, that wouldn’t serve any purpose but survival and they would live in fear and far from families and what little power they had. A Christain Temple, their priests have a habit of protecting the guilty so it is likely that they would run their for shelter.
Satisfied she returned to the streets and made her way to the Shambles, the slum in the south of Constantinople that housed the less reputable citizens and free men. A good home for the Augusta's shadow for the people that live there might as well be invisible to all those who she needs to watch.
In the Shambles it is not long before she finds the first of one of her many, many eyes. A young and thin boy that she named Othelus, the closest thing that she might ever get to a son. He ran to her gasped for breath as his tiny body shuddered from exhaustion. But he had a grin on his face that told Othya that he had news for her.
“The Demes are gathering,” He gasped, “Blues and Greens together and they aren’t yelling at each other.”
A sharp sensation ran up her spine. If they are not fighting, and a member of each escaped execution.
“Go tell Zenobia that trouble brews,” Othya told him, “tell her Troy comes again.”
With a nod the young boy child runs off again.
“Alexius, I know you hide,” Othya says and turns to a slim man in the ally between two shacks.
“Is their no sneaking up on the elusive Othya?” Alexius slurs with an exaggerated sigh. His steps stutter and drag that give him a sway of one who drank too much wine.
“There is no time for your games, Alexius.” Othya snaps. “Things now move quick as the storms winds, and I need every eye, ear, and finger to do their part. Go across the Bosporus and search each and every Christian Temple until you find monks of Conan. They should have two ragged men with them, one of each Demes. On your way tell The Scythian to ready.”
During her orders the lazy smile on Alexius’s face faded into a grim and determined mask. Every shred of air around him changed from a jolly drunk to a cold viper. “Sounds like war.”
“Do as told.” Was all she told him as she changed directions from the Shambles to the Palace.
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